Apr 28, 2007

Correction and clarification.

Two posts to the Washington Post's blog.

I must have missed something.I could care less about Gonzales firing 8 or,(like Janet Reno did)93.What law is it exactly that the democrats have said he has broken?
I mean of course besides being a republican?I am not a Bush fan,nor did I vote for him but I have noticed,the democrats voted for the war and then backed away when it didn't go well saying they got different intel.Bull!Now they have created a scandal where there isn't
one,and the republicans stand idly by and don't call them on this.What kind of half-ass dog and pony show is this?The democrats criticize and attack everything that goes on in the White House.Are they hoping noone will notice they have been in office 5 months and haven't done a damn thing except go on vacation.They don't have any ideas or plans about anything.
Passed a resolution that is worthless and A bill that is loaded with pork the president said he would veto.I don't think we're getting our moneys worth out of these bunch of whiners and quitters.That would make them losers that I believe will lose big in 2008.They can't fool even democrats forever.But,I don't know,Clinton did!

Posted by: Clay2046 | April 27, 2007 05:50 PM

Clay2046, Well, you're talking about two unrelated issues, that's part of the problem.

How many U.S. Attorneys did George W. Bush fire when he first came into office? 92 is the count that I have. How many did George H.W. Bush fire in 1989? 93. And Reagan? Same story. So the Clinton firings were consistent with precedent.

When presidents first come into office they replace the U.S. Attorneys wholesale. This is part of the political spoils system. Although there is a check here too: The replacement attorneys are confirmed by the U.S. Senate--which serves as a vetting process. It helps to keep marginally qualified, and flatly unqualified candidates out of the selection pool.

Politics may play a role in who gets hired, but it has never come into play late in the process to determine whether a person stays or goes. In the over 140 years since the creation of the Department of Justice U.S. Attorneys are generally only removed mid-term for malfeasance or incompetence.

There has never been a case in our history where a president has fired this many attorneys for reasons that clearly have very little to do with those non-political performance standards.

There are actually a number of other things at work here too--including the removal of appointment provisions from the Patriot Act renewal which cut the Senate and the Courts out of the appointment process; resulting in the appointment of U.S. Attorneys by this administration with little to no prosecutorial experience. That's an issue, because these U.S. Attorneys wield a great amount of power. Had these U.S. Attorneys received Senate confirmation, the Bush administration could at least point the finger of blame, but now this one pretty much falls on them. It's saying something that Bush didn't even feel entirely comfortable running these "interim" appointees through a friendly Senate in 2006 to receive confirmation. I believe the U.S. Attorney for Utah was the only one who went through the normal appointment process in 2006.

At least one area which is likely to come into play is obstruction of justice. The White House and the political staff at the DOJ have asserted that these firings were not done with the purpose of interfering with specific cases, but there is circumstantial case that could be made here. The White House hasn't helped its case much either by its stone walling, continually shifting explanations, the disappearance of relevant emails (in reference to White House political staff), the withholding of evidence; and the embarrassing fact that no one at the Department of Justice, which oversaw this process, is able to state who recommended prosecutors for firing (or removal from the to be fired list), and because of that no one seems to know, or recall, why those names were put on the list in the first place. That's problematic.

The Iraq War spending bill is another entirely different beast. As far as the "pork" goes take a look at the previous war supplementals which have gone through. It seems a little bit odd to develop a conscience over this issue at this stage in the game--especially when the "pork" items in this one are about one-tenth what has gone through in previous bills. In fact the alleged "pork" items in the bill would account for roughly a day and a half of Iraq War spending (we're spending a rate of $7 billion a month--the alleged "pork" items that I've seen in this bill amount to a little under $500 million). If you're a fiscal conservative you'd probably be better off asking about the $800 or billion that has been spent so far, with out-year medical and replacement costs pushing the estimated final price tag to about $2 trillion dollars. Like I said though, that's an entirely different beast.

Posted by: JP2 | April 27, 2007 08:47 PM

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